The Cleveland Browns will start veteran Case Keenum at quarterback when they take on the Denver Broncos on “Thursday Night Football,” the team announced Wednesday. This decision comes after Baker Mayfield aggravated the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder in Week 6 against the Cardinals. The former No. 1 overall pick told reporters this week that he would try everything he possibly could to be able to suit up this week, but because of such a quick turnaround on a short week, it wasn’t in the cards.
“Baker fought really hard to play,” said head coach Kevin Stefanski. “He’s a competitor and obviously wants to be out there but just couldn’t make it on a short week.”
After Sunday’s loss to Arizona, Mayfield said he dislocated his shoulder after getting hit by J.J. Watt in the third quarter, which forced him out of the game. The 26-year-old suffered a torn labrum in that shoulder during Cleveland’s Week 2 matchup with the Texans. While he has been able to play, the injury has impacted his efficiency over the previous two weeks, completing just 53.1% of his passes in Weeks 3 and 4. Mayfield seemed to turn a corner in Week 5 against the Chargers (72 completion percentage), but the injury again puts him on an uphill climb.
As for Keenum, he’s in his second season with the Browns serving as Mayfield’s backup. The 33-year-old does have 62 regular-season starts under his belt, so Cleveland will have an experienced quarterback as they try to escape Week 7 with a home win against Denver.
It should also be noted that Keenum does have a strong track record as a starting quarterback with Kevin Stefanski as he was his quarterbacks coach when they both were with the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. That year, Keenum started 14 games, went 11-3 as a starter and completed 67.6% of his passes while averaging 236.5 passing yards per game with 22 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
Not only will the Browns look to survive without Mayfield, but they are pretty banged up in general as 20 players were listed on their original injury report to begin the week. One of the most notable is running back Kareem Hunt, who’ll miss the next few weeks due to a calf injury.